- Tons of i/o at a very friendly price
- Good sounding Mic Pres
- Included MIDI i/o
- Complex monitor routings are easily
attainable with CueMix
- Solid drivers
- Small knobs are hard to manipulate
for Mac OSX
MOTU Stuff at zZounds
Review of the
MOTU 828 MK2
A bang for the buck Audio Interface
Mark of the Unicorn (MOTU) 828MKII Firewire 24/96 Audio Interface
(Macintosh and Windows)
MOTU 828mkII Page at
History of What U Get
The MOTU 828 series started with the original 828
and was announced in January of 2001. It was the first Firewire
audio interface on the market. MOTU clearly had a winner on their hands.
Some of the killer features of the MOTU 828 (which are still all present in the
Mk 2 version) are:
- 8 analog i/o
- 2 Monitor/Main outs
- 8 ch ADAT i/o (can also be used as s/pdif optical)
- ADAT sync
- stereo s/pdif coaxial i/o (rca)
- Mic/line in (Neutrik combo XLR/TRS)
- front panel headphone out
Wow, that by itself is a LOT of i/o. The original
828 had a maximum sample rate of 48kHz and had no display. In May of 2003
the 828Mk2 arrived. Motu kept the price the same but added even more features.
In addition to the features listed above MOTU added:
- a backlit display
- Front panel programming
- Moved the Mic/line jacks to the front panel
for easier access and added a switch for 48v phantom power.
- Added two rear panel sends from the Mic/line
in to allow inserting a compressor between the send and other line inputs.
- additional Firewire port
- SMPTE sync
- Added front panel metering for all analog inputs,
s/pdif and mic inputs and main outs
- Boosted the maximum sample rate from 48kHz to
- MIDI i/o
Now that is studio power. All in one rack space.
Added together you get 20 inputs and 22 outputs.
Double click for larger images
What you can Do
And there is more. You get a software control
panel, called Cue Mix which lets you set the front panel controls from the computer
(a good thing too, because the knobs are small on the front panel) Mac users also
get an application called AudioDesk2 which is a software multi track recorder with
plenty of features. (Windows users do not get this application as of this
So what do you need to do? Connect condenser
mics? Covered. Guitars? Covered. Route to an 8 bus analog console? Cinch.
Connect to a Digital Mixer with Adat i/o? Probably No Prob. (i.e., I didn't
try it). Connect to ADAT? It's designed to. Stream in/out 8
channels of audio from another computer with ADAT? Oh yes! Connect studio monitors?
Done. Use as a stand-alone Mixer? You got it. All of this for
a box that lists for $795. That is way below the Digi 002 rack which has fewer
features. More than a Delta 1010, but you get a lot more features
Pic of Motu's CueMix Software
I am using the 828mk2 with a Mac G5 1.8 dual on
Mac OS X 10.3.2. It sounds very good and the latency is low. I still
haven't tried to find the lower end of its softsynth latency yet and haven't needed
to. The Mic preamps are clear and clean and don't mess with the signal. I
was quite pleasantly surprised here. I've managed to use Cue mix while recording
in Logic to set up a latency free monitor mix for the headphone jack, so the vocalist
can get their own tailored mix in the cans without affecting my main board or software
mix. You simply go out your board's sub outs through Logic input objects to some
MOTU inputs and balance that with the Mic signal in the headphone mix. Sound
complicated? Not when you know what you are doing :)
Complicated setups are easy to manage.
Using the ADAT i/o I have my PC's Emu 1820M connected to the 828mk 2 via ADAT
and Word Clock. I can send all 8 channels from the PC from Sonar or Cubase
or Emulator X straight into the 828mk2 and to Logic in real time. All you
need are 3 cables to make this happen.
Another configuration is the ADAT to a
to give you 18 analog outs that can be routed to a large mixer. Those of
you with a big board who want to do analog mixes this is probably one of the
most cost effective ways to do it.
I don't find any showstopper problems with the
828Mk2. The few that there were when G5s were first released have long been
Finally, a small point perhaps, but worth mentioning,
the pic on MOTU's site shows a blue display with what appears to be a moving bar
graph. That does not exist on my unit. The display is green and the
there is only a static and crude representation of faders. While this is minor
I found it disturbing. I've written MOTU; thinking I had an older unit.
They wrote me back the next day saying that the blue display was in a beta version
and was not a real time display. The final release has the green display that I
One more thing about MOTU. The day Tiger
was released they had an update on their site for the MOTU firewire audio interfaces.
Stuff like that makes me a happy customer.
I was originally torn between getting a Digi 002
Rack or a MOTU 828 Mk2. The 002R comes with quite a software bundle, in addition
to the other strengths of the 002. If you are stuck in this decision quagmire,
good luck! I am not sure exactly how I decided this one but in the end I felt
the 828Mk2 might be better for Logic and the meters and lower price conspired to
win it for MOTU. Boy am I glad I did my research. Users with the digi002 in
"core audio" mode using Logic are less than thrilled. The 002 is designed
for ProTools LE and that is what you should run with it, not Logic or Cubase.
After a year and a half Update: I have used the 828mk2 extensively
with both Logic Pro 6 and 7 and Cubase SX 3 on my Mac G5. I am still happy
with it. No troubles at all. And I am thrilled to have my PC
streaming audio into my Mac in the digital domain of ADAT.
I have not yet tested the 828mk2 drivers on my PC (if I do I will
update this article). There are many users on studio-central that have reported
good results with Win XP machines. For the Mac I have no trouble recommending
this audio interface as a great way to go. It works great with G4 and
G5 machines, and overall is an excellent value. It won a TEC award in 2004
and its' easy to see why.
Updated Jan 2008
Tweak's Articles on Audio Interfaces
Audio Interfaces- Page 1
Audio Interfaces--Page 2
Firewire Audio Interface Chart-Page 3
PCI Audio Interface Chart-Page 4
USB 2.0 Audio Interface Chart--Page 5
Audio Interfaces- Page 6
Audio Interfaces: The Best of the Low Cost
Audio Interfaces for your Mac
MOTU 896Mk3 Review
MOTU 828mk2 Review
Audio Interfaces Prices
Using a Mac pro as Your DAW
Using a G5 as your DAW
Using an Apple TV as an Audio Archiver
Audio Interfaces For your Mac
Is it Time to go Mac Yet?
MOTU 896MK3 Review
MOTU 828mk2 Review
History of Logic
Logic Studio 9 Review
Logic (Mackie) Control
Review iLife and GarageBand
Using SoundTrack Pro